In an impassioned speech on the floor of Congress last night Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) spoke about the environmental degradation and contamination caused by Chevron's activities that he witnessed on his recent trip to Ecuador (you can see pictures taken by members of the congressional delegation here and here). On the 3 day visit, McGovern had an opportunity to see the ecological devastation for himself, to meet the people who have had their lives impacted by the effect of 26 years of Texaco's substandard drilling operations, and he had an opportunity to see how Chevron has used junk science to try to manipulate and hide the evidence of contamination. Rep. McGovern related to Congress the total destruction he had seen, describing the families who had been touched by cancer he had an opportunity to speak with, the children's skin diseases he saw, and the toxic waste pits he toured. He concluded that witnessing the pain and destruction left by an American multi-national corporation made him "angry and ashamed" as an American citizen.
The environmental devastation left in the region by Chevron is the subject of a long-running piece of litigation by the 30,000 indigenous persons impacted by the damage against the Chevron Corporation. An independent court-appointed expert has assessed the damage caused by Texaco's substandard oil drilling operations to be as high as $27 billion. Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001, will bear any liability assessed in the case. The case is currently pending in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador and a decision is expected in early 2009.